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The Restaurant Industry in Wisconsin

Independent Spirit

Most restaurants are independently owned small businesses owned and operated by hardworking individuals and families who have a passion for providing good food and warm hospitality.  

Tight Margins

Restaurant operators face many hurdles including extremely narrow margins, unpredictable food costs and being a highly labor-intensive industry.


Providing Jobs and Opportunity

Restaurants are a driving force in Wisconsin’s economy. They provide jobs and build careers for thousands of people.  The restaurant industry is one of the largest private industry employers in Wisconsin and ranks among the fastest growing industries in the state.

The Cornerstones of Communities

Restaurants are an important part of their communities, typically giving of their time and resources as leaders and supporters of a variety of causes to make a positive difference.


Basic Stats 

  • Estimated sales in Wisconsin for 2017: $8.6 billion
  • Number of eating and drinking place locations in Wisconsin in 2016: 12,398
  • Number of restaurant and foodservice jobs in Wisconsin in 2018: 280,500
  • The number of jobs in the foodservice industry in Wisconsin projected for 2028:  311,700  (a total of growth rate of 11.15% equaling 31,200 additional jobs )

Statistics provided by the National Restaurant Association
For national restaurant industry stats, visit

Susan Quam

For more information, contact:

Susan Quam | Executive Vice President


What’s Hot? Culinary Forecast

The National Restaurant Association’s annual What’s Hot culinary forecast predicts food and menu trends for the coming year. They surveyed 700 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation – to identify the hottest menu trends for 2018.

Menu Trends 2018



  • $799 billion: Restaurant industry sales. (Source: 2017 State of the Industry)
  • 1 million+: Restaurant locations in the United States.
  • 14.7 million: Restaurant industry employees.
  • 10%: Restaurant workforce as part of the overall U.S. workforce.
  • 9 in 10: Restaurant managers who started at entry level.
  • 8 in 10: Restaurant owners who started their industry careers in entry-level positions.
  • 9 in 10: Restaurants with fewer than 50 employees
  • 7 in 10: Restaurants that are single-unit operations.

(Source: National Restaurant Association)